Friday, July 9

Terrorism suspects arrested in Norway and Germany

Matt Yglesias:
As ever with these things it’ll take several days to figure out what, if anything, was really going on here but the Norwegian Police Security Service says it’s busted a terrorist cell in cooperation with American, British, and German agencies and arrested three men, two in Norway one in Germany:
She added, “‘We believe this group has had links to people abroad who can be linked to Al Qaeda, and to people who are involved in investigations in other countries, among others the United States and Britain.”

One of the men arrested was a 39-year-old Norwegian citizen of Chinese origin who belonged to the Muslim Uighur group, she said. Another was a 37-year-old Iraqi citizen who came to Norway in 1999 and has permanent residency.

The third man was a 31-year-old Uzbek citizen who also has permanent residency in Norway.
I think this once again underscores a couple of important points. One is that for all the disparagement of the “law enforcement and intelligence” approach to counterterrorism from the right, this is all we’ve got. International terrorists aren’t the same as average criminals, but the basic methods involved in apprehending them are similar. An aircraft carrier doesn’t help, and soldiers don’t have the right training. The other is that the most dangerous “safe havens” are inside western cities and not in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There’s no way to perpetrate a terrorist attack on a western target if you’re in Peshawar, still less if you’re in the mountains somewhere. If you’re in Oslo with a Norwegian passport, you can hop on a plane and go anywhere. And yet somehow we’re debating a $37 billion supplemental appropriation for a war in Afghanistan while the total FBI budget is around $7 billion. I’m not saying we should necessarily go out and triple the FBI’s counterterrorism budget, but if you want to think about spending lots of money on catching terrorists that seems like the smart place to do it.

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